Monday, April 22, 2013

Be More Detail Oriented to Get Ahead

Those striving for excellence in their career get a lot of mileage out of giving proper attention to detail. "The Devil is in the details", as they say and when you show your boss that you notice the little things -- the stuff that drives him crazy -- he'll see realize you can handle things on your own and work with minimal supervision. This is the kind of employee that most companies seek.

If you are keen to details you can most likely maintain your schedules well, provide quality output that requires little to no re-work, effectively meet deadlines, and generally make your company a better and more profitable place AND MAKE YOUR BOSS' LIFE EASIER. Below are useful tips to become detail oriented at work.

Write Things Down

A check lists is almost always a great idea for making sure things get done right. Check lists essentially automate attention to detail. You don't have to write long sentences. What you need is to scribble key words on the things you have to do. This way, you will know exactly the tasks on queue and others things you need to deal with for the day (or to properly complete the task at hand). Though it is a good organization scheme to follow, do not restrict yourself to this. You could devise your own system for organization. Just make sure that you follow it strictly. When you write things down, most likely, you will not miss anything that is vital. I highly recommend Atul Gawande's "A Checklist Manifesto" along with some other great attention to detail resources.

Ask for Additional Information

Many employees are afraid to ask for further information because they don't want others to see them as someone who doesn't know what to do. This is a big pitfall for all employees especially when assigned with an important task. It would be great if your manager would provide you with general instruction or information about the task that you have to perform but remember that your boss is a person, too, and we all make mistakes and forget things from time to time.  If you need more information or don't understand something, just ask.  Even bosses who are jerks realize the importance of getting things right so you might say, "I want to make sure I get this perfect for you and our client so how does the client primarily use this system?"

Most good managers will appreciate your willingness to step up and ask for additional information. Asking good and thoughtful questions shows you care about the success of the company.

Ask for an Evaluation

The best way to learn that you are improving is to evaluate yourself. It would be better to have it accomplished by other people. You could ask your boss to provide you a feedback or suggestion on the work you completed to improve your performance the next time. Prepare yourself for the feedback you will hear. You are essentially asking someone to point out your faults so you can eradicate them. Listen carefully and with an open mind so you can use the feedback to improve your performance. You may be surprised at how many of the things you hear you could put under the category of "didn't notice that" or "could have corrected with more careful review of work." Regardless, the important thing here is you learn.

Double-Check Your Work

Many of the mistakes made in workplaces could have been caught if someone just double-checked his own work. Countless deliveries have been made with missing items because someone didn't double-check the order against the quote request.  Numerous writers could have kept their jobs if only they had double-checked their work before turning it in with numerous errors and misspellings which their boss had to correct or return for more budget-killing re-do's.

When you complete a task, take a short break first then meticulously review what you have done. Always keep in mind that there is something wrong in your work when you do the checking. It's a good mentality rather than being overly confident that there is nothing wrong with your work.

Being more detail oriented takes time. Patience and constantly giving your best in everything you do would surely help. Follow the tips mentioned above and you will soon find yourself becoming more efficient with your work.

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